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Azores

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Conservation


The relatively high level of endemism in the Azores (terrestrial) gives to the archipelago’s biota great conservation relevance. Its preservation has also been recognized by the local government through the establishment of protected areas for conservation purposes since the early 1980s. The Azorean Protected Areas Network is currently being reformulated according to IUCN criteria and integrates 23 Sites of Community Importance and 15 Special Areas of Conservation, which are part of the NATURA 2000 network of nature protection areas. Besides the creation of 9 Island Nature Parks, the Azores Marine Park will incorporate all classified marine areas that fall outside the territorial sea, therefore including areas currently classified under international instruments such as the OSPAR Convention (7 sites currently inscribed for the Azores, 1 proposed), as is the case of the Lucky Strike and Menez Gwen hydrothermal vent fields.
The Azores hold also a series of areas classified under UNESCO programmes. Currently the Region counts with 12 Ramsar sites and 3 islands – Graciosa, Corvo and Flores – have been adopted as Biosphere Reserves. In progress is a transnational application of sites of outstanding natural value along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge for inscription in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.